The Minister of the Environment's report on the Waste Diversion Act, 2002 review entitled "From Waste to Worth: The Role of Waste Diversion in the Green Economy" was posted on the Environmental Registry on October 28, 2009.

The Report outlines proposed changes to Ontario's waste diversion framework. It proposes outcomes – based individual producer responsibility, to be achieved through the following initiatives:

  • Making individual producers fully responsible for meeting waste diversion requirements for waste discarded in both the residential and IC&I sectors;
  • Allowing those producers to meet their waste diversion requirements either by joining a materials management scheme or by developing their own individual waste diversion plan;
  • Requiring individual producers to annually report information on sales into the Ontario marketplace of designated products and packaging
  • Requiring that any waste diversion plan meet outcome-based requirements;
  • Requiring producers who fail to meet outcome-based requirements to meet prescriptive requirements ("default" option) or face penalties for non-compliance  

Clarification of the concept of diversion is to be achieved by:

  • Clarifying the concept of diversion to allow a wider range of processes and technologies to be used to meet diversion requirements and encourage innovation:
    • Diversion continues to be reduce, reuse, recycle (which includes material recovery)
    • The material value recovered and preserved from all processes and technologies will be counted as diversion
    • Burning waste, without recovering material for reuse, would not be counted as diversion  

A long-term schedule for diversion is to be established. This will be done by:

  • Developing a long-term waste diversion schedule for the province that would:
    • Designate materials for diversion including materials discarded in both the residential and IC&I sectors
    • Set consistent timelines and milestones for producer registration, development and implementation of waste diversion plans, and data submission for each designated material
    • Set five-year material-specific collection and diversion targets
    •  Trigger a review of targets five years after coming into force
  • Including the following materials in the five year schedule: IC&I generated paper and packaging, additional electronics, construction and demolition materials, bulky items, vehicles, branded organics, and small household items.

Effective oversight will be required if this is intended to be accomplished by:

  • Improving oversight by clearly articulating the roles of the Ministry of the Environment and Waste Diversion Ontario:
    • Ministry of the Environment: set the policy framework, including designating materials, setting targets and establishing timelines, setting penalties for non-compliance, and setting environmental standards as appropriate. Maintain enforcement role in those instances where prosecution for offences under the WDA is required.
    • Waste Diversion Ontario: carry out guidance, oversight and compliance, including setting up systems for and conducting compliance checks on registration, waste diversion plans, and annual data submissions; levying administrative penalties for non-compliance, and setting administrative standards as appropriate.

The theme of user responsibility will continue. Specific measures to be imposed include:

  • Ban designated materials from disposal
  • Implementing a disposal levy to narrow the gap between the cost of diversion and disposal, and shift behaviour toward greater diversion
  • Using disposal levy revenues to support the waste diversion efforts of businesses, consumers, and municipalities such as measures aimed at design for the environment and consumer education.

Ontario intends to dramatically increase its overall waste diversion rate above the current diversion rate approximately 22%. If the measures as proposed are implemented, there will undoubtedly be an increase in diversion. The outstanding question is the cost to the consumer and whether or not that will be offset by new economic opportunities that will arise from implementation of the measures as set out in the report.

For further information please see: http://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/displaynoticecontent.do?noticeId=MTA4MDIy&statusId=MTYyMjY5&language=en